Sergey Nilov and Dimitry Golovchenko Go For New Route on Gasherbrum IV

Gasherbrum IV is one of the most beautiful and hardest mountains on earth. Just 75 meters keep the peak from being the world’s 15th 8,000’er.

Commercial climbers have thus been spared from having to deal with a peak that is well out of their league. There is no easy route up its walls. Instead, the record seekers that populate base camp these days focus solely on Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II, the two 8,000’ers.

Within three weeks, they will all be gone. Then alpinists Sergey Nilov and Dimitry Golovchenko will be alone to tackle a new route on Gasherbrum IV.

Map with the location of all Gasherbrums and nearby peaks.

The many Gasherbrums lie in a semi-circle around a series of glaciers. Photo: Wikipedia


A totally new line

The two Russians are well known among ExplorersWeb readers for their incredible effort on the SE Face of Jannu (speaking of difficult peaks!) and their epic descent. They told that they will begin on July 28, which is rather late in the Karakoram climbing season. They also confirmed they want to climb a new line that no one has done or even attempted before. With the story, included a picture of the unclimbed South and East Faces of GIV. Hopefully, the climbers themselves will share details soon.

Gasherbrum IV showing ints south face, half covered by snow and the upper side in snowpowdered roc, and the rockier east face.

The labeled photo from shows the South Face of Gasherbrum IV. To the right lies the East Face. The ridge on the far right of the photo is the one climbed by Bonatti and Mauri in 1958. It leads to the north summit and then traverses to the peak’s main summit (all marked in Russian). The front side of the mountain shows the SW Spur, the South Face, and in black, the South Spur.


In the footsteps of legends

Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri made the first ascent of Gasherbrum IV in 1958, on an expedition led by Ricardo Cassin. They climbed the NE Ridge to the north summit, then managed the crux of the climb: the traverse to the main summit.

Gasherbrum IV stands out between other lesser peaks. base camp is seen right below, on the rcky part of the glacier.

The snowy West Face of Gasherbrum IV rises above the Gasherbrum Base Camp. Photo: Baltistan Adventures


Yet the most distinctive aspect of Gasherbrum IV is its massive West Face, better known as The Shining Wall, because it reflects the dawn sun. Voytek Kurtyka and Robert Schauer did the first ascent of this face in 1985, in one of the epic climbs of the last century. They pushed their own limits, alpine style. Although they survived, they didn’t reach the main summit.

Twelve years later, a siege-style South Korean team ascended the Shining Wall to the main summit via a different route, thus gaining credit for the first full ascent.

Nilov and Golovchenko won a Piolet d’Or in 2016 for their new route on the north spur of 6,904m Thalay Sagar. Their Jannu climb led to an excellent film called The Wall of Shadows. See the trailer here.

Thanks to @KrisAnnapurna for the heads-up!

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.